Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore borders Lake Michigan featuring over 15 miles of lake shore. Founded in 1966, the legislation that established the park was the result of efforts that began in 1899. Henry Cowles published an article entitled “Ecological Relations of the Vegetation on Sand Dunes of Lake Michigan,” in the Botanical Gazette in 1899 bringing international attention to the dunes. Over the years due to a variety of different reasons, efforts to establish a national park, including Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service, holding hearings in Chicago to gain support, largely stalled. With a political compromise in 1966, 8,330 acres of land and water were set aside to form the park. The Save the Dunes Council, National Park Service, and others wanted to seek expansion of the boundaries of preservation. Four other bills (1976, 1980, 1986, and 1992) have expanded the park to more than 15,000 acres.
Early knowledge of the archeological record of the area comes from private collections. Park service archeologists have, through accidental discovery, collected knowledge of this area during pre-historic times. Additionally, archeologists have discovered artifacts during different types of projects including: monitoring, reconnaissance, inventory, and Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program (SAIP) Investigations. Monitoring projects consist of observation and recording of ground-disturbing activities. Reconnaissance occurs when archeologists survey sites to determine if archeological resources are present. SAIP helps systematically increate baseline knowledge or archeological resources inside of the park. By working with the different methods park service archeologists are able to preserve the past as well as learn more about the area’s history.